New York Times
By Jeremy Peters
December 3, 2014
House Republicans on Wednesday were quickly closing in on the final details of a spending plan to keep the government from shutting down next week and, despite objections from more conservative lawmakers, were preparing to call a vote next week.
Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team are eager to avoid the kind of bitter and politically harmful fight that led to a 16-day shutdown last year. And their decision to overrule many in the Tea Party wing of their conference will likely lead to an outcry on the right.
But two people who were briefed on the plan said that leadership was moving forward anyway, even if it means relying on Democratic votes to win passage.
The spending deal that would come to a vote in the House has been extensively negotiated by both Republicans and Democrats over the last several months and contains elements that members of both parties could likely support.
But since almost all activity in Congress has been complicated by President Obama’s decision to use his executive authority to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, passing a spending plan is no simple matter.
Conservatives who feel their leadership is being too timid in taking on the president openly expressed their frustration on Wednesday, calling on their colleagues in both private meetings and public conversations to take a harder line.
Republicans have tried to use the annual appropriations process to curtail the president’s action and devised a plan to fully fund all of the government entities through next fiscal year except the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for carrying out immigration policy. The department would only be funded through the first couple of months next year.
Democrats, while not eager to go along, have signaled that they would support that legislation, meaning that the government will not close its doors next Thursday when its spending authority officially expires. The White House has also indicated to House Republicans that it would not object.
But many conservative Republicans, long antagonistic to Mr. Boehner’s position on any spending or immigration issues, believe that the speaker’s plan does not go far enough. They would rather see the entire government funded through a short-term plan that expires early next year. And some are calling on any spending bill to immediately withhold funding for those agencies tasked with carrying out the president’s unilateral action, as well as holding up all of Mr. Obama’s upcoming nominations not directly tied to national security if he implements his executive action.
The number of conservatives who abandon their leadership and vote ‘no’ could be as many as a few dozen, putting the speaker in an uncomfortable position. But pushing the government to the brink of another shutdown, he has said, is not something he is willing to do as Republicans prepare to take control of both chambers of Congress in January.
Conservatives tried to rally members to oppose their leadership and bring the fight to the president in the lame-duck session. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas crossed the Rotunda to help fire up House conservatives — as he has done during previous politically intense fights, and much to the chagrin of many of his fellow Republicans.
Mr. Cruz gathered with Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, a vocal opponent of any immigration overhaul, and more than 20 conservative House members Wednesday morning at a private Capitol Hill Club breakfast. And he again joined Mr. King and a handful of House members at an hourlong rally in front of the Capitol to decry what they call the president’s “executive amnesty.”
Mr. King said the Texas senator had been playing an important role in devising strategy to oppose the president. “He has an ability to crystallize the thoughts and the opinions of the people around the table, so that’s pretty important,” Mr. King said.
Speaking at the rally, Mr. King called the president’s actions “fundamentally unfair” and urged fellow Republicans to honor their campaign promises to fight the White House over any unilateral immigration decisions.
“Just about every Republican candidate in the country campaigned saying if you elected us, we will stop President Obama’s amnesty,” Mr. Cruz said. “What I’m here urging my fellow Republicans to do is very, very simple — do what you said you would do.”
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